Submitted by George C. Brathwaite (PhD)
Everything is fine and dandy in Barbados. The economy is growing at a rate that would ensure jobs are available to all and sundry; local businesses are blossoming and foreign investors are rushing to our shores in droves with new projects. The society is at peace with itself while violent crime and indiscipline are things of yesteryear. There is no corruption or even the slightest sign of malfeasance in Barbados’ public administration. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) machinery, under Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s pragmatic and proactive leadership, has been sublime and purposeful. The DLP is well set under Stuart to be elected for a third term.
Clearly, the preceding statements point to the delusional disorder that has become associated with DLP spokespersons. That paragraph reads as fiction and the fantasy held by the ‘Sleeping Giant’. However, to ordinary Barbadians not steeped in the illusion being cast by the DLP’s unbelievable boasts, the DLP remains a party stupefied. The DLP is oblivious to the burdens facing Barbadians. Today, the people are crying out for better having reached the end of their resolve. Political pundits must ask what is prompting the loud cries of dismay being heard in almost every nook and cranny across Barbados? Why is the DLP’s rhetoric so much at odds with the actual mood of Barbadians?
In October 2015, it was stated by the then Governor of the Central Bank that “foreign reserves remain adequate, and economic policy and the future development of the economy remain firmly in our own hands.” Fifteen months later, not only has Barbados witnessed the wretched axing of that Central Bank Governor, but any positives drawn in relation to economic turnaround, have been badly diminished with the trends pointing in dangerous directions. The unsustainable printing of money and the mountainous debts are suffocating the economy and strangling the society.
Indeed, Barbados’ foreign reserves have been drastically depleted, falling to around 10 weeks’ stock. The Governor warned last September that: “We need to compensate for the large fiscal deficit of recent years, and to restore foreign reserves to levels that provide a cushion against future shocks.” Last month, he cautioned that “the reserves are what protect us against the devaluation of our currency,” and that our macroeconomic managers “need to dampen spending” to ensure that there is protection for “the country’s reserves of foreign exchange.” Advice ignored by the DLP administration.
This sluggish and bungling DLP government is imperiled by its weakness of inadequacy and ineffectiveness. The Stuart-led Cabinet has collectively failed to forge significant economic growth or diminish the uncertainty which has kept investors at bay and the society on edge. The Cabinet is clumsy at public policy and especially woeful with the macroeconomy. Plainly, the DLP administration with a degree of incompetence, has been unable to lift the Barbados nation to higher levels of achievement.
The DLP’s big shots, failing on several aspects of governance, are supplanting national interest with their crusade to save themselves. For example, last week culminated with the economy and the plight of Barbadian people being upstaged by the humiliation of the Governor of the Central Bank. The Prime Minister’s carefree phases, became another hint that he dreams on while the DLP’s tenure has become a burden too heavy for an increasing majority of Barbadians.
Responding to this disgusting state of affairs, last week the Leader of the Opposition and political leader of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) – Mia Mottley – urged Barbadians to join in a National March of Disgust and Rally on the significant day of March 11th, 2017. Mottley’s concerns come after another sequence of the DLP’s normalised indiscipline.
As a reminder, one of Barbados’ finest prime ministers – JMGM ‘Tom’ Adams died in office on March 11th, 1985. Incidentally, there is another event – Reclaim Our Streets: Feminine Solidarity March – also planned for the afternoon of the march and rally. It would be remiss not to highlight that Tom Adams was pivotal in advancing the cause of women in Barbados. Between 1976 and 1985 he worked tirelessly towards legally ending the discrimination against women. Notwithstanding, Miss Mottley in a forthright but embracing tone which reflects the comparable magnetism of Adams, expressed to Barbadians that ‘enough is enough’. The people are no longer willing to suffer indignity or scarcity, and this chagrin has led to the announcement of a march signalling that enough is enough.
It is routine to hear men, women, and our youth daily lament and complain about Barbados’ rapid decline over a nine-year period since 2008. Even those from within the inner sanctuary of Cabinet, namely Dr David Estwick and Donville Inniss have been critical of the DLP’s actions that expose a sinister indiscipline within the Cabinet. Dr Estwick indicated that Barbados was heading in the wrong direction under the current Finance Minister, to the extent that Barbados’ “debt matrices have deteriorated significantly since 2010.” The more garrulous Inniss has been critical of the deplorable sight of garbage, the overladen bureaucratic nature of government, the water woes, the potholes and general poor state of roads, not to mention admitting to the rude silence exhibited by the Prime Minister on numerous issues which are critical to the wellbeing of the Barbadian people.
After almost two complete terms in office that are characterised by an unending set of myriad crises and failures, the DLP has reached the point where it no longer has the moral authority to be critical of any group or political party. Barbadians are complaining that PM Stuart repeatedly displays lack of empathy to those bedevilled with problems stemming from the DLP’s macroeconomic mismanagement. Bothersome to Barbadians is Stuart’s hugs to tourists, and speeches in New York, but silent contempt when there is local consternation.
Mia Mottley strongly contends that the Barbados society “can no longer put up with Mr. Stuart’s absurd pretences” of ignorance when it comes to serious issues affecting the population. On too many serious matters when hands-on leadership was required, the ignorance that ought to be punishable with laughter has been shamefully claimed by the Prime Minister. Mottley convincingly reinforced the observation that: “The Prime Minister of Barbados has once again given incontrovertible proof that he is thoroughly unfit to continue political leadership of Barbados.” Very few persons looking on or standing on the sidewalks will disagree with Mottley.
Surely, reckless omission epitomises the current Prime Minister, but annoys multiple thousands of Barbadians. Allegations of countless DLP infractions have surfaced; these are sufficiently nefarious as to damage the country’s reputation. Yet, PM Stuart revels in hush-hush and perplexing idiosyncrasies. Stuart has made procrastination and silence his most outstanding attributes. While these are personal habits that most likely developed over many years, his social crassness and political obnoxiousness are being construed as forms of disrespect to the populace. Stuart’s insensitive condition has become contagious, and has badly penetrated the Cabinet he leads. Undeniably, the apparent arrogance of Cabinet is most visible when falsehoods become the chosen tool to defend nine paltry years. No wonder many ‘Dems’ have been heard singing Gypsy’s – Captain the ship is sinking.
Captain this ship is sinking
Captain these seas are rough, oh yes
We gas tank almost empty
No electricity, we oil pressure reading low
Shall we abandon ship
Or shall we stay on it and perish slow
We doh know, we doh know
Captain you tell we what to do!
By way of comic relief, the DLP’s propaganda machinery is to launch a campaign to be called ‘Facts’ (maybe, preceded by the word alternative). This campaign is ironic given the experiences and realities daily afflicting Barbadians. Against a stern reluctance to meaningfully account for the true state of the Barbados economy, the DLP operatives are determined and operating like cavalry. The targets to be slashed are the Leader of the Opposition and the BLP, despite the arrival of new political parties.
The DLP’s General Secretary last week, for example, preferred to slice away at Mottley and the BLP instead of encourage the DLP’s leadership to reconnect with the people or call the elections. The typically calm George sobbingly got sweaty and whimpered ‘disruption’ and ‘opportunism’ at Mottley. The DLP spokesman is blind to the bondage felt by Barbadians as they reel from the weight of DLP-imposed taxes. Barbadians are disgusted with bad policies, secret deals, and lack of accurate information coming from PM Stuart and the mangled DLP administration.
Moreover, Ince’s worthless talk about the Barbadian dollar having no value, and the misguided young man’s claim that the BLP is engaging in fear-mongering are signs of the DLP’s worry. Donville Johnson, a jolly old chap suggested the calibre of candidates that the DLP will throw to the public are winners; but such pronouncements are distractions. The utterances are cleverly calculated to shroud out the DLP’s paltry performances and many broken manifesto pledges.
On page 1 of the DLP’s 2013 Manifesto, the document apart from calling for a return to office, reads: ‘FIRST TERM FOR PLANTING, SECOND TERM REAPING’. The highlighted catchphrase can reasonably be interpreted that by now, Barbadians would have seen the DLP deliver on jobs. Barbadians sacrificed so that they could reap their just rewards. Few persons would argue for a third DLP term when there has been no harvest. Instead, Barbados has become gripped in a dreadful situation. The national interest has fallen far behind the need of the DLP to hide its many flaws. The DLP’s main defence against a badly underperforming economy is cupped in blame, firings, distortion, and increased confusion.
Therefore, and rightfully seizing the moment, the Leader of the Opposition has called for a national march and rally. Mottley contends that: “The Prime Minister is clearly indifferent to the gravity of the crises” confronting Barbados. She further pleaded that “the time has come … for Barbadians from all walks of life to be given an opportunity to register their disgust at the state of affairs in this country.” While a protest march is not a tool regularly used in Barbados, it can be very effective as evidenced during the early 1990s.
The show of disgust over the prevailing situations that hurt pride and industry in Barbados is ultimately an opportunity for the nation’s people to set the tone before the next general election is called. With the prolonged suffering under the DLP, and the disaffection that comes from living ‘pay check to pay check’ or being unemployed, Barbadians are further disgusted. The DLP is in disarray, and is desperately trying to remain relevant.
On March 11th, the country would register the many ‘grievances and concerns which demand that something must be done’ to remedy an unbearable situation. Barbadians have become more audibly and visibly offended by the indifference of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the dismissiveness of his Cabinet. The nation is crying out for hope and real leadership. Yours truly will be marching to show disgust. All Barbadians, regardless of political persuasion, ought to get up, stand up, march!
(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org )